I had to cancel all my postpartum support plans

"I sat in my hospital bed canceling plans—plans for my brother to watch my toddler, plans for cat-sitting, meal delivery, and more of my well thought out and planned support systems."

postpartum support

"Please remember not to allow anyone to step inside your home. Now, enjoy your new baby and stay well!" were the words I heard from a well-meaning nurse before we left the hospital with our new baby.

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

This advice was pretty much the opposite of what any new mom needs to hear. Yet, there I was, leaving the hospital on the same day that California governor Gavin Newsom declared the entire state would be entering quarantine mode.

As a second-time mom with a history of postpartum anxiety, I feared what was in store for me.

During my pregnancy, I had put together an extensive game plan to ensure I would be able to take care of myself and focus on my recovery after giving birth. My therapist's number one piece of advice? "Make sure not to isolate yourself. Have a support network lined up for those first couple months."

Although this might not seem like anything radical, I hoped that by taking a few extra precautions like hiring a postpartum doula, would help me make it to the end of the fourth trimester in better shape than I had been the first time around.

My game plan had already been slowly falling apart as the coronavirus started to spread—my husband and I had decided a few weeks earlier that we didn't want our parents stepping foot on a plane, especially since we were in the early hotspot of the Silicon Valley. So we lined up other people to watch our toddler when I went into labor. But as the situation unfolded further, we realized that our parents probably wouldn't be able to come help anytime soon, and other means of support quickly became untenable as well.

My brother had offered to drive two hours to pick up our toddler for a few days after we got home from the hospital which our pediatrician had initially said was okay, as long as everyone in their family was practicing safe social distancing. With the announcement of the lockdown, however, even that option seemed risky.

I sat in my hospital bed canceling plans—plans for my brother to watch my toddler, plans for cat-sitting, meal delivery, and more of my well thought out and planned support systems.

The support that previously seemed essential suddenly became an impossible luxury. Our goal was no longer to thrive, but merely to survive. Perhaps I could have insisted on needing help, but dealing with the repercussions of having no support seemed like a small price to pay in order to prevent a potentially deadly virus from entering our household. After all, we reasoned, it would be even worse if either of us got it.

I found myself breaking all the rules as I recovered from labor. I was back on my feet a few days after giving birth, doing dishes and cooking meals like I had not even just had a baby. My husband did whatever he could, but looking after our toddler left him unable to do it all. There was also a whole new set of chores that needed to be done—such as tracking down toilet paper and sanitizing grocery deliveries.

I thanked my body for allowing me to do more than I thought it could, but I longed—more than anything—to be taken care of for a change.

Although life all around us seemed to have come to a standstill, with the economy collapsing and no one leaving their homes, we ironically felt stuck in the all too common spiral of hitting the ground running. This pressure to bounce back to normal, I knew, was a recipe for disaster. I knew the longer I had to rest and take care of myself, the less chance I'd have of developing postpartum depression.

I had been planning on following some advice from a friend, whose Chinese mother made sure she observed a version of zuo yuezi, or "sitting the month" after childbirth. Modernized versions of zuo yuezi emphasize self-care strategies, such as massage, lots of rest and restorative concoctions to heal the body. Instead, more times than I can count, I have found myself grabbing prepared foods as I wake up bleary-eyed, and worrying about whether I'll be able to make enough breast milk to feed my baby as a result.

More than the physical exhaustion, however, the emotional exhaustion of being postpartum amidst a pandemic has been the hardest for me.

In the rare and precious moments when I have been able to sit down and have a second to myself, it's nearly impossible to avoid picking up my phone to check the latest news about the coronavirus and to make sure everyone I love is okay.

Needless to say, I haven't been surprised when panic has washed over me. I try to think of these moments like waves, and I do what I can to ride them out. Some are more gentle and come with a warning, and others hit me like a ton of bricks.

And yet, the intensity of the situation we're in has turned me into a kinder and less demanding version of myself. With all the uncertainty and hardship felt across the globe, simply getting through each day is something to be thankful for. When the weight of the world feels like too much to bear and I don't have the strength to hold my baby, I listen to myself. I put him down, or sometimes I site down while holding him, where the ground will also hold me, too.

Here I can close my eyes and cry. I cry alongside him or I let my tears gently fall on him as he sleeps. I cry for not being able to hug my mom, for her not being here to hug my baby. I cry for all the suffering around me that I want to be able to help prevent. I cry for no reason at all. I cry because I love my baby so much it hurts.

My moments of panic and fleeting scary thoughts do not make me any less of a mother, I know that. In fact, being able to speak about them and being able to forgive myself, make me feel like a much better mother. If this experience has taught me anything, it is that I am stronger than I believed, especially when I learn to accept my weaknesses.

The world is all kinds of upside-down right now. So much so, I feel we are barely able to comprehend it all. Our "new normal" still looms like a mystery. But we are strong, even in our brokenness—especially in our brokenness—which propels us boldly toward the love we need to feel whole again.

Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!


Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!


Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.


A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.


A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.


Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)


Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.


A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.


This article was sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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